The Argument For The New York Giants Embracing The Tank

The New York Giants have won back to back games and their offense looked as good as it has all season when they took down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. However, that puts them at a crossroads. While it’s nice to see the team win again, the season is practically over at this point because of the poor start that put the team into a tough spot going into the season’s second half.

And now, it looks like the Giants may not pick number one overall or even in the top three like everyone projected them to at the halfway mark. Is it a good thing that the team is winning again despite being largely out of the race for the playoffs? Or should they ‘tank’ and think about the future of the franchise rather than the present?

The argument for tanking

NFL fans only care about the playoffs. That might be tough to hear for some people, but one of the big differences between the NFL and college football is that in the NFL, a season is considered a disappointment if the playoffs aren’t reached. Finishing with a winning record is considered a stepping stone to reaching the playoffs, and not an achievement in itself.

When a team does poorly and goes into rebuilding, the rebuild is usually considered finished when they make it into the playoffs. Failing to reach the playoffs can get a decent head coach fired, while making it in for the first time in years can elevate the status of a coach.

Which game do you remember more clearly as a fan of the New York Giants? Their 23-10 win over the Denver Broncos last year? Or their loss to the Green Bay Packers the year before? If you remember the Packers game and the controversy around it, which included the infamous Miami trip, it’s likely because the Packers game happened in the playoffs while the Broncos game was in the regular season.

The fact of the matter is that fans care about the playoffs more and the Giants are already out of the picture following their 1-7 start. They’ve already started their fire sale by trading Damon Harrison and Eli Apple, indicating that they do intend to rebuild rather than continuing with trying to win using the current roster.

So logically, the team should continue that fire sale without caring about the results on the field. The fans won’t be happy, but even if they won a few more games and hurt their draft position in the process, it wouldn’t change a thing. Nobody is going to be happy with, say, a five win season during a year when the Giants were expected to win the division and make a playoff return.

Some will claim that the Giants organization should do everything they can to win, because of the spirit of competition and for the fans that are still watching at this point in the season.

But it’s hard to believe that the same crowd will be satisfied at the end of the year if the Giants finish with only four or five wins, and play worse next year on top of that because they drafted lower than they could have. The Giants fixed the running back position earlier this year by drafting Saquon Barkley, but it came at the cost of skipping on a quarterback.

And going into next year, there’s only three ways to get one, assuming Kyle Lauletta isn’t the player that succeeds Eli Manning. They can draft one, get one in free agency, or make a trade. There are some highly rated quarterbacks in the draft, but if the Giants don’t pick in the top three, can they really be confident in who they’re picking? There’s a chance that the best quarterback will already be off the board by the time they make a selection, if they win another game or two.

It’s possible to look for a quarterback in free agency, and that route may be more reliable than looking for a player in the draft and trying to develop an unproven rookie. Especially when there’s no consensus best quarterback at this point in the college season. Justin Herbert dominated mock drafts earlier in the year, but Mizzou’s Drew Lock has crept up the draft boards and is now considered by many to be the best quarterback in the draft. More recently, Herbert confirmed that he might not even enter the draft in the first place.

If the Giants go the free agent route, they have to identify the right quarterback and make it work financially. They owe Eli Manning $23M next year, and it’s going to bring protests from the fans if they talk Manning into retirement or, even more controversially, trade him. Not only that, but there’s not many quarterbacks expected to hit the market that would be more than a stopgap until a future draft.

Jameis Winston may be available, if the Bucs decide to rebuild rather than picking up his fifth year option. But Giants fans don’t want Winston for either on the field or off the field reasons, despite him being the best quarterback that has a realistic chance of hitting the open market. What other options are available? Nick Foles or Teddy Bridgewater?

The Giants may need to draft a quarterback next year. If they want to do that, they need to draft high and take one of the top rated prospects rather than taking another chance on a lower rated quarterback like they did this year with Kyle Lauletta.

And if they do that, losing some games is just part of the process. It’s not what anyone will want to hear. But unless there’s an option in free agency that makes sense, it could be the way out of the team’s quarterback problem.